England: Prime Minister May And The U.K. In Crisis Over Brexit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TH NEW YORK TIMES)

 

LONDON — The chaos and dysfunction of the British government were on full display on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Theresa May requesting a short delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union after a bitter dispute in her cabinet over her plan for a lengthier extension.

The deadlock in the cabinet underscored the political crisis gripping the government as the deadline for Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc draws ever closer. Even Mrs. May’s spokesman acknowledged as much, saying the prime minister had warned this could happen if her Brexit plan were rejected.

In a letter to European Union leaders, Mrs. May asked for an extension to the Article 50 negotiating process until June 30, raising the prospect that Britain could still suffer a disorderly departure in the summer. Reflecting that possibility, the British pound dropped on the news.

The prospect of any delay to Brexit, as Britain’s departure from the bloc is known, is a broad and humiliating reversal for Mrs. May. It is sure to infuriate many members of her Conservative Party, most of whom support leaving the European Union with no deal if necessary, and to reaffirm the cynicism, rampant among many of the 17.4 million Britons who voted to leave, that the elites in London would never let them have their way.

Her decision was sharply criticized by the opposition Labour Party and by some of her own lawmakers.

“Theresa May is desperate once again to impose a binary choice between her deal and no deal despite Parliament clearly ruling out both of those options last week,” the shadow secretary for Brexit, Keir Starmer, said in a statement. “What the government should be doing is showing real leadership, making good on their commitment to break the deadlock and secure an extension with a genuine purpose.”

Limiting the request to a short delay is the latest in a series of political gyrations from Mrs. May. Last week she said that, if Parliament failed to vote swiftly for her plans — which have been rejected twice — then Britain would face a lengthy delay and have to take part in European elections in May.

It was that prospect that triggered a rebellion from Brexit supporters in her cabinet on Tuesday — and reports of resignation threats — that appear to have prompted another retreat. “As prime minister, I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June,” Mrs. May told lawmakers, prompting some speculation that she might resign if Parliament tried to force a longer extension.

A short delay will keep alive hopes among hard-line Brexit supporters in Parliament, who want to leave without any agreement, and they will be under little pressure now to approve Mrs. May’s deal.

Though the political paralysis over Brexit is in Parliament, the decision on whether to grant the delay lies with the European Union, whose leaders had been expected to agree to some sort of extra time when they gather in Brussels on Thursday. But that could now be in doubt.

Speaking to the German radio station Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said that any decision by the European Union might have to be postponed until the end of next week, after fresh votes in Parliament. That could be on the eve of Britain’s departure, scheduled for March 29.

An extension could come with conditions, and European leaders stressed on Tuesday that they want to see some form of strategy in place to resolve the crisis. They worry that three months is not sufficient for Mrs. May to achieve success, and that she will be back to request another delay in the summer. That would be hard for them to accommodate for legal reasons, because Britain would not have participated in European elections.

Mrs. May faced criticism from all sides in Parliament on Wednesday. Several lawmakers noted that her decision directly contradicts a statement last week by David Lidington, her de facto deputy, who said that, in the absence of a deal, seeking such “a short and, critically, one-off extension would be downright reckless.” To do so, Mr. Lidington had said, would make “a no-deal scenario far more, rather than less, likely.”

But one pro-Brexit Conservative, Peter Bone, argued that if Mrs. May failed to honor her promise to achieve Brexit by March 29, she would be “betraying the British people.”

Since becoming prime minister in 2016, Mrs. May’s overriding objective has been to extricate Britain from the bloc while maintaining the unity of her Conservative Party.

European leaders will consider Mrs. May’s request for a delay in Brexit.CreditMatt Dunham/Associated Press
Image
European leaders will consider Mrs. May’s request for a delay in Brexit.CreditMatt Dunham/Associated Press

By beginning the negotiations in March 2017, she committed herself to an exit by March 29, 2019, within the two years dictated by the bloc’s rules, either with or without an agreement — a promise that critics have pounced on as one of her many misjudgments.

She has largely failed in that mission, and the underlying political problem for Mrs. May remains unresolved. There is no majority in Parliament for any approach other than a “soft” Brexit, with Britain staying in the bloc’s customs union and close to its single market. But that would require cross-party cooperation and would surely rip apart the Tories.

On the other hand, if a hard-liner like the former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, should supplant Mrs. May, that would just as surely prompt widespread resignations and defections among pro-European Conservatives.

Mrs. May is hoping she can still salvage something from the wreckage of her Brexit negotiations by making the delay a short one. Extra time would at least stave off the prospect of a disorderly, economically costly Brexit with no deal next week, which Parliament has made clear it wants to avoid.

Continental economies would be hit too, if not as severely as Britain’s, by a departure without a deal, so European Union leaders are unlikely to rebuff Mrs. May completely. But their patience is being sorely tested.

Mrs. May is likely to try to return to Parliament next week and stage another vote on her deal, even though it has been rejected twice by lawmakers by large margins.

Her plan would give Britain power over immigration from Europe at some point, but would tie the country to the European Union’s customs and trade rules until the end of 2020.

On Monday, the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, said the prime minister could not put her deal to a third vote this week, citing parliamentary rules devised in 1604 to prohibit multiple votes on the same proposition.

Depending on what the talks with the European Union yield, Mrs. May could return with a changed proposition by next week, making it harder for Mr. Bercow to block another effort by Mrs. May to get a vote in Parliament.

If her deal is rejected again by lawmakers, Mrs. May could be forced to change tack, and perhaps allow Parliament to consider other options, like keeping closer economic ties to the European Union.

Mrs. May, nothing if not stubborn, is not giving up on her unpopular blueprint for Brexit. Indeed, she excels at buying more time, and a delay would give her at least a couple of more weeks to resolve the crisis.

Like most everything else with Brexit, the process of requesting and granting an extension is no simple matter, which helps explain why it created such bitter divisions in the cabinet on Tuesday.

For legal reasons, a delay beyond the end of June would be likely to require Britain to participate in elections to the next European Parliament, making a mockery of British plans to leave the bloc.

But as another legal matter, a decision on whether to stage the elections — and effectively to go for a longer delay — must be made during the second week of April. The Brexiteers want to use the upcoming European elections as a sort of backstop, to borrow a phrase, to force Britain to leave, since it would be legally problematic to remain in the bloc without representatives in the European Parliament.

If a long delay would be awkward for Britain, it is not straightforward for the European Union either. It would mean the British enjoy the full rights of membership despite their efforts to leave the club.

In that event, European officials are concerned that Britain might try to use its power to paralyze the bloc’s other business as leverage to extract more concessions on its exit deal.

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Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas): Truth, Knowledge And The Known History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

Introduction Although first sighted by an English navigator in 1592, the first landing (English) did not occur until almost a century later in 1690, and the first settlement (French) was not established until 1764. The colony was turned over to Spain two years later and the islands have since been the subject of a territorial dispute, first between Britain and Spain, then between Britain and Argentina. The UK asserted its claim to the islands by establishing a naval garrison there in 1833. Argentina invaded the islands on 2 April 1982. The British responded with an expeditionary force that landed seven weeks later and after fierce fighting forced an Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982.
History The islands are referred to in the English language as “[The] Falkland Islands”. This name dates from an expedition led by John Strong in 1690, who named the islands after his patron, Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount Falkland. The Spanish name for the islands, “Islas Malvinas”, is derived from the French name “Îles Malouines”, bestowed in 1764 by Louis Antoine de Bougainville, after the mariners and fishermen from the Breton port of Saint-Malo who became the island’s first known settlers. The ISO designation is “Falkland Islands (Malvinas)”.

As a result of the continuing sovereignty dispute, the use of many Spanish names is considered offensive in the Falkland Islands, particularly those associated with the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands.[7] General Sir Jeremy Moore would not allow the use of Islas Malvinas in the surrender document, dismissing it as a propaganda term.

Geography Location: Southern South America, islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, east of southern Argentina
Geographic coordinates: 51 45 S, 59 00 W
Map references: South America
Area: total: 12,173 sq km
land: 12,173 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes the two main islands of East and West Falkland and about 200 small islands
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,288 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: cold marine; strong westerly winds, cloudy, humid; rain occurs on more than half of days in year; average annual rainfall is 24 inches in Stanley; occasional snow all year, except in January and February, but does not accumulate
Terrain: rocky, hilly, mountainous with some boggy, undulating plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Usborne 705 m
Natural resources: fish, squid, wildlife, calcified seaweed, sphagnum moss
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (99% permanent pastures, 1% other) (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: strong winds persist throughout the year
Environment – current issues: overfishing by unlicensed vessels is a problem; reindeer were introduced to the islands in 2001 for commercial reasons; this is the only commercial reindeer herd in the world unaffected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster
Geography – note: deeply indented coast provides good natural harbors; short growing season
People Population: 3,105 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA
Population growth rate: 2.44% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: NA
Death rate: NA
Net migration rate: NA
Infant mortality rate: total: NA
male: NA
female: NA
Life expectancy at birth: total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA
Total fertility rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Falkland Islander(s)
adjective: Falkland Island
Ethnic groups: British
Religions: primarily Anglican, Roman Catholic, United Free Church, Evangelist Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutheran, Seventh-Day Adventist
Languages: English

Indians get more UK visas as European Union citizens exit over Brexit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Indians get more UK visas as European Union citizens exit over Brexit

Indians were granted the highest number of visitor visas during the year ending September 2018: up 41,224 (or 10%) to 4,68,923; Chinese and Indian nationals alone accounted for just under half (47%) of all visit visas granted.

WORLD Updated: Nov 29, 2018 22:07 IST

Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Indian,UK visa,European Union
New figures released on Thursday show a rise in the number of visas granted to Indian professionals, visitors, students and family members, but also reflect the Brexit reality of more EU citizens leaving the United Kingdom.(File Photo)

New figures released on Thursday show a rise in the number of visas granted to Indian professionals, visitors, students and family members, but also reflect the Brexit reality of more EU citizens leaving the United Kingdom.

Indians were granted the highest number of visitor visas during the year ending September 2018: up 41,224 (or 10%) to 4,68,923; Chinese and Indian nationals alone accounted for just under half (47%) of all visit visas granted.

The demand for Indian professionals continued during the year, with 55 per cent of all Tier 2 (skilled) visas granted to them, the figures released by the Office for National Statistics show.

The number of Indian students coming to study at UK universities also showed a 33 per cent rise, to 18,735. Chinese and Indian students accounted for almost half of all students visas granted during the year.

There was also an increase in the family-related visas for Indians (up 881 to 3,574). The number of EEA family permits given to Indians (members of families of EU citizens) was also up 4,245 to 8,360, official sources said.

Figures showing more EU citizens leaving than arriving in the UK prompted renewed concern over the impact of Brexit. The net migration from the EU to the UK slumped to a six-year low, while non-EU migration is the highest in more than a decade.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “EU migrants have been leaving in larger numbers since the referendum, and net inflows have greatly decreased”.

“The lower value of the pound is likely to have made the UK a less attractive place to live and work and economic conditions in several of the top countries of origin for EU migrants have improved”.

First Published: Nov 29, 2018 18:27 IST

Fiji: Truth, Knowledge, History of South Pacific Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Fiji

Introduction Fiji became independent in 1970, after nearly a century as a British colony. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987, caused by concern over a government perceived as dominated by the Indian community (descendants of contract laborers brought to the islands by the British in the 19th century). The coups and a 1990 constitution that cemented native Melanesian control of Fiji, led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. A new constitution enacted in 1997 was more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a civilian-led coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government led by Prime Minister Laisenia QARASE. Re-elected in May 2006, QARASE was ousted in a December 2006 military coup led by Commodore Voreqe BAINIMARAMA, who initially appointed himself acting president. In January 2007, BAINIMARAMA was appointed interim prime minister.
History The first inhabitants of Fiji arrived long before contact with European explorers in the seventeenth century. Pottery excavated from Fijian towns shows that Fiji was settled before or around 1000 BC, although the question of Pacific migration still lingers.[2] The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman visited Fiji in 1643 while looking for the Great Southern Continent.[3] It was not until the nineteenth century, however, that Europeans settled the islands permanently.[4] The islands came under British control as a colony in 1874, and the British brought over Indian contract labourers. It was granted independence in 1970. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987 because the government was perceived as dominated by the Indo-Fijian (Indian) community. The second 1987 coup saw the British monarchy and the Governor General replaced by a non-executive President, and the country changed the long form of its name from Dominion of Fiji to Republic of Fiji (and to Republic of the Fiji Islands in 1997). The coups contributed to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties but ensured that Melanesians became the majority.

In 1990, the new Constitution institutionalised the ethnic Fijian domination of the political system. The Group Against Racial Discrimination (GARD) was formed to oppose the unilaterally imposed constitution and restore the 1970 constitution. Sitiveni Rabuka, the Lieutenant Colonel who carried out the 1987 coup became Prime Minister in 1992, following elections held under the new constitution. Three years later, Rabuka established the Constitutional Review Commission, which in 1997 led to a new Constitution, which was supported by most leaders of the indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities. Fiji is readmitted to the Commonwealth of Nations.

The new millennium brought along another coup, instigated by George Speight, that effectively toppled the government of Mahendra Chaudhry, who became Prime Minister following the 1997 constitution. Commodore Frank Bainimarama assumed executive power after the resignation, possibly forced, of President Mara. Fiji was rocked by two mutinies at Suva’s Queen Elizabeth Barracks, later in 2000 when rebel soldiers went on the rampage. The High Court ordered the reinstatement of the constitution, and in September 2001, a general election was held to restore democracy, which was won by interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase’s Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party.

In 2005, amid much controversy, the Qarase government proposed a Reconciliation and Unity Commission, with power to recommend compensation for victims of the 2000 coup, and amnesty for its perpetrators. However, the military strongly opposed this bill, especially the army’s commander, Frank Bainimarama. He agreed with detractors who said that it was a sham to grant amnesty to supporters of the present government who played roles in the coup. His attack on the legislation, which continued unremittingly throughout May and into June and July, further strained his already tense relationship with the government. In late November 2006 and early December 2006, Bainimarama was instrumental in the 2006 Fijian coup d’état. Bainimarama handed down a list of demands to Qarase after a bill was put forward to parliament, part of which would have offered pardons to participants in the 2000 coup attempt. He gave Qarase an ultimatum date of 4 December to accede to these demands or to resign from his post. Qarase adamantly refused to either concede or resign and on 5 December President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, was said to have signed a legal order dissolving Parliament after meeting with Bainimarama.

For a country of its size, Fiji has a large armed forces, and has been a major contributor to UN peacekeeping missions in various parts of the world. In addition, a significant number of former military personnel have served in the lucrative security sector in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion.

Geography Location: Oceania, island group in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates: 18 00 S, 175 00 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 18,270 sq km
land: 18,270 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 1,129 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation; rectilinear shelf claim added
Climate: tropical marine; only slight seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: mostly mountains of volcanic origin
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Tomanivi 1,324 m
Natural resources: timber, fish, gold, copper, offshore oil potential, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 10.95%
permanent crops: 4.65%
other: 84.4% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 28.6 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.07 cu km/yr (14%/14%/71%)
per capita: 82 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: cyclonic storms can occur from November to January
Environment – current issues: deforestation; soil erosion
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: includes 332 islands; approximately 110 are inhabited
Politics Politics of Fiji normally take place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Fiji is the head of government, the President the head of state, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Fiji. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Since independence there have been four coups in Fiji, two in 1987, one in 2000 and one in late 2006. The military has been either ruling directly, or heavily influencing governments since 1987.

2006 military takeover

Citing corruption in the government, Commodore Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, staged a military take over on December 5, 2006 against the Prime Minister that he himself had installed after the 2000 coup. There had been two military coups in 1987 and one in 2000 when the military had taken over from elected governments led by or dominated by Indo Fijians. On this occasion the military took over from an indigenous Fijian government which it alleged was corrupt and racist. The Commodore took over the powers of the President and dissolved the parliament, paving the way for the military to continue the take over.

The coup was the culmination of weeks of speculation following conflict between the elected Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, and Commodore Bainimarama. Bainamarama had repeatedly issued demands and deadlines to the Prime Minister. At particular issue was previously pending legislation to pardon those involved in the 2000 coup. Despite intervention to reconcile the parties by the President, Vice President and Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand there was no willingness to make concessions on either side. This therefore failed to resolve the crisis.

Bainimarama named Jona Senilagakali caretaker Prime Minister. The next week Bainimarama said he would ask the Great Council of Chiefs to restore executive powers to President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.[5] On December 6, Bainimarama declared a state of emergency, and warned that he would not tolerate any violence or unrest.

Following the coup, the Commonwealth of Nations held an emergency meeting in London, where they declared Fiji’s membership had been suspended. On December 9, the military rulers advertised for positions in the Government, including cabinet posts, in a national newspaper. They stated people wishing to apply must be “of outstanding character”, have no criminal record, and never have been bankrupt.[6]

Also on December 9 the IFNA withdrew the right of Fiji to host the 2007 World Netball Championships as a consequence of the Military takeover. The withdrawal is expected to have a significant impact in Fiji due to the popularity of sports such as Netball.

On January 4, 2007, the military announced that it was restoring executive power to President Iloilo,[7] who made a broadcast endorsing the actions of the military.[8] The next day, Iloilo named Bainimarama as the interim Prime Minister,[9] indicating that the Military was still effectively in control.

In the wake of the take over, reports have emerged of intimidation of some of those critical of the interim regime. It is alleged that two individuals have died in military custody since December 2006. These deaths have been investigated and suspects charged but not yet brought to court.

Following ongoing criticism from neighbours, specifically Australia and New Zealand, the New Zealand High Commissioner Michael Green was expelled from Fiji in mid June 2007, in the aftermath of restrictive emergency regulations having been lifted (recognised as a generally positive development by outside observers).

On September 6, 2007, Commodore Frank Bainimarama said Fiji’s military declared again a state of emergency as he believed ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was engaged in destabilization efforts when he returned to Suva after 8 months of exile on his home island Vanuabalavu in Lau, Elections were tentatively set on March 2009.[10]

The interim Government set up an anti corruption Commission which have received numerous complaints and allegations, also there have been a number of high profile dismissals from government and associated industry. The anti corruption body however, has yet to successfully prosecute anyone for alleged corruption.

During November 2007 there were a number of people brought in for questioning in regard to an assassination Plot directed at the Interim Prime Minister, senior army officers and members of the Interim Cabinet.

People Population: 918,675 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30.9% (male 144,665/female 138,816)
15-64 years: 64.7% (male 297,709/female 296,897)
65 years and over: 4.4% (male 18,397/female 22,191) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 24.9 years
male: 24.4 years
female: 25.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.394% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 22.37 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.66 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.042 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.003 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.829 male(s)/female
total population: 1.006 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 11.99 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.12 years
male: 67.6 years
female: 72.76 years

Turkey gives recordings on Khashoggi’s death to Saudis, US, Britain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Turkey gives recordings on Khashoggi’s death to Saudis, US, Britain — Erdogan

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) Recordings related to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death have been passed on to Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday.

Khashoggi was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his marriage.
Speaking before his departure to Paris for World War I commemorations, Erdogan said: “We passed on the recordings. We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, French and the English — we gave them all.”
He did not elaborate on what was on the recordings.
Erdogan said the killer, or killers, would be known to the 18 suspects identified by Turkish authorities — including 15 men who arrived from Saudi Arabia shortly before Khashoggi’s death.
He again called on Saudi Arabia to provide answers as to what happened to Khashoggi and his body, which has not yet been found.
Erdogan has previously demanded that Saudi Arabia hand over the 18 suspects for prosecution in Turkey but the kingdom has insisted that those responsible for Khashoggi’s death will be tried in Saudi Arabia.
The Turkish chief prosecutor said 10 days ago that Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate, as part of a premeditated plan, and his body dismembered.
Sons of slain Saudi journalist speak to CNN

Erdogan’s confirmation that recordings relating to Khashoggi’s death have been handed to key international players is the latest in a drip-feed of details released by Turkey in the weeks since the journalist disappeared.
Revelations from the Turkish side have helped to keep up diplomatic pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened.
US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron both want to get “greater detail” about the events surrounding Khashoggi’s killing, a French presidential spokesman said following a meeting between the pair Saturday in Paris.
Both leaders agreed “something very serious happened — that this assassination was serious and unacceptable,” the spokesman said at a briefing on the bilateral talks.
However, neither leader wants to do anything that could destabilize Saudi Arabia, the spokesman said, adding that the United States considered Saudi Arabia to be the “cornerstone of everything in the Middle East.”
The leaders did not discuss what should happen to the culprits, the spokesman noted, describing it as an “internal Saudi matter.”
The Saudis have presented shifting stories about the journalist’s fate, initially denying any knowledge before arguing that a group of rogue operators, many of whom belong to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s inner circle, were responsible for Khashoggi’s death.
The Saudi attorney general then said the Turkish side had provided information indicating that the killing was premeditated. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister and Energy Minister have both described Khashoggi’s death as “murder.”
Riyadh has maintained that neither bin Salman nor his father, King Salman, knew of the operation to target Khashoggi. US officials have said such a mission — including the 15 men sent from Riyadh — could not have been carried out without the authorization of bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler.
After Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi was killed in its Istanbul consulate, five high-ranking officials were dismissed, including bin Salman’s media chief and the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence service. Eighteen people were arrested.

Gibraltar: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Gateway To The Mediterranean

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Gibraltar

Introduction Strategically important, Gibraltar was reluctantly ceded to Great Britain by Spain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht; the British garrison was formally declared a colony in 1830. In a referendum held in 1967, Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly to remain a British dependency. The subsequent granting of autonomy in 1969 by the UK led to Spain closing the border and severing all communication links. A series of talks were held by the UK and Spain between 1997 and 2002 on establishing temporary joint sovereignty over Gibraltar. In response to these talks, the Gibraltar Government called a referendum in late 2002 in which the majority of citizens voted overwhelmingly against any sharing of sovereignty with Spain. Since the referendum, tripartite talks on other issues have been held with Spain, the UK, and Gibraltar, and in September 2006 a three-way agreement was signed. Spain agreed to remove restrictions on air movements, to speed up customs procedures, to implement international telephone dialing, and to allow mobile roaming agreements. Britain agreed to pay increased pensions to Spaniards who had been employed in Gibraltar before the border closed. Spain will be allowed to open a cultural institute from which the Spanish flag will fly. A new non-colonial constitution came into effect in 2007, but the UK retains responsibility for defense, foreign relations, internal security, and financial stability.
History There is evidence of human habitation in Gibraltar going as far back as Neanderthal man, an extinct species of the Homo genus. The first historical people known to have settled there were the Phoenicians around 950 BC. Semi-permanent settlements were later established by the Carthaginians and Romans. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Gibraltar came briefly under the control of the Vandals, and would later form part of the Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania until its collapse due to the Muslim conquest in 711 AD. At that time, Gibraltar was named as one of the Pillars of Hercules, after the legend of the creation of the Straits of Gibraltar.

On April 30, 711, the Umayyad general Tariq ibn Ziyad led a Berber-dominated army across the Strait from Ceuta. He first attempted to land at Algeciras but failed. Subsequently, he landed undetected at the southern point of the Rock from present-day Morocco in his quest for Spain. Little was built during the first four centuries of Moorish control.

The first permanent settlement was built by the Almohad Sultan Abd al-Mu’min, who ordered the construction of a fortification on the Rock, the remains of which are still present. Gibraltar would later become part of the Kingdom of Granada until 1309, when it would be briefly occupied by Castilian troops. In 1333, it was conquered by the Marinids who had invaded Muslim Spain. The Marinids ceded Gibraltar to the Kingdom of Granada in 1374. Finally, it was reconquered definitively by the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1462, ending 750 years of Moorish control.

In the initial years under Medina Sidonia, Gibraltar was granted sovereignty as a home to a population of exiled Sephardic Jews. Pedro de Herrera, a Jewish converso from Córdoba who had led the conquest of Gibraltar, led a group of 4,350 Jews from Córdoba and Seville to establish themselves in the town. A community was built and a garrison established to defend the peninsula. However, this lasted only three years. In 1476, the Duke of Medina Sidonia realigned with the Spanish Crown; the Sefardim were then forced back to Córdoba and the Spanish Inquisition. In 1501 Gibraltar passed under the hands of the Spanish Crown, which had been established in 1479. Gibraltar was granted its coat of arms by a Royal Warrant passed in Toledo by Isabella of Castile in 1501.

The naval Battle of Gibraltar took place on April 25, 1607 during the Eighty Years’ War when a Dutch fleet surprised and engaged a Spanish fleet anchored at the Bay of Gibraltar. During the four-hour action, the entire Spanish fleet was destroyed.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, British and Dutch troops, allies of Archduke Charles, the Austrian pretender to the Spanish Crown, formed a confederate fleet and attacked various towns on the southern coast of Spain. On 4 August 1704, after six hours of bombardment starting at 5 a.m., the confederate fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir George Rooke assisted by Field Marshal Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt comprising some 1800 Dutch and British marines captured the town of Gibraltar and claimed it in the name of the Archduke Charles. Terms of surrender [5] were agreed upon, after which much of the population chose to leave Gibraltar peacefully.

Franco-Spanish troops failed to retake the town, and British sovereignty over Gibraltar was subsequently recognised by the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the war. In this treaty, Spain ceded Gibraltar (Article X) and Minorca (article XI) to the United Kingdom in perpetuity. Great Britain has since retained sovereignty over the former ever since, despite all attempts by Spain to recapture it.

Due to military incursions by Spain various fortifications were established and occupied by British troops in the area which came to be known as “the British Neutral Ground.” This was the area to the north of Gibraltar, militarily conquered and continuously occupied by the British except during time of war. (The sovereignty of this area, which today contains the airport, cemetery, a number of housing estates and the sports centre, is separately disputed by Spain.)

During the American Revolution, the Spanish, who had entered the conflict against the British, imposed a stringent blockade against Gibraltar as part of an unsuccessful siege (the Great Siege of Gibraltar) that lasted for more than three years, from 1779 to 1783. On 14 September 1782, the British destroyed the floating batteries of the French and Spanish besiegers, and in February 1783 the signing of peace preliminaries ended the siege.[6]

Gibraltar subsequently became an important naval base for the Royal Navy and played an important part in the Battle of Trafalgar. Its strategic value increased with the opening of the Suez Canal, as it controlled the important sea route between the UK and colonies such as India and Australia. During World War II, the civilian residents of Gibraltar were evacuated, and the Rock was turned into a fortress. An airfield was built over the civilian racecourse. Guns on Gibraltar controlled the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, but plans by Nazi Germany to capture the Rock, codenamed Operation Felix, later named Llona, were frustrated by Spain’s reluctance to allow the German Army onto Spanish soil and the excessive price Franco placed on his aid. Germany’s Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, also helped by filing a pointedly negative assessment of the options. Canaris was a leader of the German high command resistance to Hitler, and tipped off Franco who erected concrete barriers on roads leading to the Pyrenees.[7]

In the 1950s, Spain, then under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, renewed its claim to sovereignty over Gibraltar, sparked in part by the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1954 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Rock’s capture. For the next thirty years, Spain restricted movement between Gibraltar and Spain, in application of one of the articles of the Treaty. A referendum was held on September 10, 1967, in which Gibraltar’s voters were asked whether they wished to either pass under Spanish sovereignty, or remain under British sovereignty, with institutions of self-government. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of continuance of British sovereignty, with 12,138 to 44 voting to reject Spanish sovereignty. This led to the granting of autonomous status in May 1969 , which the Government of Spain strongly opposed. In response, the following month Spain completely closed the border with Gibraltar and severed all communication links.

The border with Spain was partially reopened in 1982, and fully reopened in 1985 prior to Spain’s accession into the European Community. Joint talks on the future of the Rock held between Spain and the United Kingdom have occurred since the late 1980s, with various proposals for joint sovereignty discussed. However, another referendum organised in Gibraltar in 2002 rejected the idea of joint sovereignty by 17,900 (98.97%) votes to 187 (1.03%). The British Government restated that, in accordance with the preamble of the constitution of Gibraltar, the “UK will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes.” The question of Gibraltar continues to affect Anglo-Spanish relations.

In 1981 it was announced that the honeymoon for the royal wedding between prince Charles and Diana Spencer would start from Gibraltar. The Spanish Government responded that King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia had declined their invitation to the ceremony as an act of protest.[9]

In 1988, SAS troops shot and killed three members of the IRA who were planning an attack on the British Army band. The ensuing “Death on the Rock” controversy prompted a major political row in the UK.

2006 saw representatives of the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and Spain conclude talks in Córdoba, Spain, a landmark agreement on a range of cross-cutting issues affecting the Rock and the Campo de Gibraltar removing many of the restrictions imposed by Spain.[10] This agreement resolved a number of long standing issues; improved flow of traffic at the frontier, use of the airport by other carriers, recognition of the 350 telephone code and the settlement of the long-running dispute regarding the pensions of former Spanish workers in Gibraltar, who lost their jobs when Spain closed its border in 1969.

Geography Location: Southwestern Europe, bordering the Strait of Gibraltar, which links the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, on the southern coast of Spain
Geographic coordinates: 36 08 N, 5 21 W
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 6.5 sq km
land: 6.5 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: a little less than one half the size of Rhode Island
Land boundaries: total: 1.2 km
border countries: Spain 1.2 km
Coastline: 12 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
Climate: Mediterranean with mild winters and warm summers
Terrain: a narrow coastal lowland borders the Rock of Gibraltar
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Rock of Gibraltar 426 m
Natural resources: none
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: limited natural freshwater resources: large concrete or natural rock water catchments collect rainwater (no longer used for drinking water) and adequate desalination plant
Geography – note: strategic location on Strait of Gibraltar that links the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Se
Politics As Gibraltar is an overseas territory of the UK, the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by the Governor of Gibraltar. The UK retains responsibility for defence, foreign relations, internal security, and financial stability. The Governor is not involved in the day-to-day administration of Gibraltar, and his role is largely as a ceremonial representative of the head of state. The Governor officially appoints the Chief Minister and government ministers after an election. He is responsible for matters of defence, and security. On 17 July 2006, Governor Sir Francis Richards left Gibraltar on HMS Monmouth leaving the symbolic keys of the fortress of Gibraltar with the Deputy Governor. A new governor, Lt General Sir Robert Fulton KBE, replaced Sir Francis in September 2006.[11]

The Government of Gibraltar is elected for a term of four years. The unicameral Parliament presently consists of seventeen elected members. The speaker is appointed by a resolution of the Parliament.

The head of Government is the Chief Minister, currently Peter Caruana. There are three political parties currently represented in the Parliament: the Gibraltar Social Democrats, the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party, and the Gibraltar Liberal Party.

New Gibraltar Democracy and the Progressive Democratic Party have been formed since the 2003 election. The Reform Party was wound up and Gibraltar Labour Party absorbed into the GSD in a merger in 2005. A new party the Progressive Democratic Party PDP was formed in 2006.

The 2007 election was contested by the GSD, GSLP/LIBS, the PDP and two independents.

Gibraltar is a part of the European Union, having joined under the British Treaty of Accession (1973), with exemption from some areas such as the Customs Union and Common Agricultural Policy.

After a ten-year campaign[12] to exercise the right to vote in European Elections, from 2004, the people of Gibraltar participated in elections for the European Parliament as part of the South West England constituency.[13]

As a result of the continued Spanish claim, the issue of sovereignty features strongly in Gibraltar politics. All local political parties are opposed to any transfer of sovereignty to Spain. They instead support self-determination for the Rock. This policy is supported by the main UK opposition parties.

In March 2006, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced that a new Gibraltar constitution had been agreed upon and would be published prior to a referendum on its acceptance in Gibraltar that year.[14] In July, in a statement to the UK Parliament, Geoff Hoon, the Minister for Europe, confirmed that the new Constitution confirms the right of self-determination of the Gibraltarian people.[15]

On 30 November 2006, a referendum was held for a new constitution. The turnout was 60.4% of eligible voters of which 60.24% voted to approve the constitution and 37.75% against. The remainder returned blank votes. The acceptance was welcomed by the Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, as a step forward for Gibraltar’s political development.

People Population: 27,967 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.2% (male 2,460/female 2,343)
15-64 years: 66.3% (male 9,470/female 9,070)
65 years and over: 16.5% (male 2,090/female 2,534) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 40.1 years
male: 39.6 years
female: 40.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.129% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 10.69 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 9.4 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.044 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.825 male(s)/female
total population: 1.005 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.98 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.54 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.39 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.93 years
male: 77.05 years
female: 82.96 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.65 children born/woman

How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938: Stalin Murdering 2 Saudi Diplomats Didn’t Help

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL JAZEERA NEWS)

 

How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn’t killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

by

How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabi”s King Salman attend a welcoming ceremony before their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 5 [Reuters/Yuri Kadobnov]

Last week, Saudi King Salman was greeted in Moscow with a lot of pomp and media attention. The 81-year-old monarch arrived with a 1,500-strong delegation amid high expectations for major political and trade deals.

The first visit of a Saudi king to Russia was rich in diplomatic courtesies, but it lacked in substance. What came out of the three days of meetings was much more modest than expected.

The two countries signed only a handful of agreements, most of which were memorandum of understanding. An agreement was reached to establish a $1 billion energy investment fund and a $1 bn hi-tech investment fund. The two sides also negotiated the sale of S-400 defense systems. But against the backdrop of the $15 bn-worth of arms contracts the US recently approved for Saudi Arabia, the Moscow-Riyadh agreement seems quite modest. It very much seems like the high-level meetings in the Kremlin failed to create an appearance of a political and economic breakthrough in relations.

This shouldn’t be all that surprising given that Russia and Saudi Arabia had a 54-year break in relations, during which the US became Riyadh’s dominant partner and security guarantor. Perhaps the outcome of King Salman’s visit could have been very different, if it weren’t for an incident that spoiled Russian-Saudi relations 80 years ago and caused the break.

It is a little-known fact that Riyadh and Moscow used to enjoy remarkably warm relations in the 1920s and 30s. The Soviet Union was, in fact, a diplomatic pioneer in Saudi Arabia: It was the first state to recognize Abdulaziz Al Saud (King Salman’s father) as the King of the Hijaz and the Sultan of Nejd in February 1926.

King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud in 1930 [AP]

The Soviet charm offensive in the Arabian Peninsula in the 1920’s was the culmination of numerous attempts by Moscow to gain a foothold in the region prior to that. As early as 1900, Russian imperial military vessels started frequenting the Gulf and making port calls in Kuwait among other destinations. The famous Russian Varyag cruiser visited Kuwait in December 1901 and its captain was greeted by Emir Mubarak Al Sabah despite his agreement with Great Britain not to receive foreign military guests. It was during this visit that the Russians were first introduced to Abdul Rahman Al Saud who was exiled in Kuwait at that time, along with his elder son Abdulaziz, who a year later retook Riyadh from their rivals, the House of Rashid.

As the House of Al Saud was seeking international backing, London looked at young Abdulaziz with a lot of skepticism, which is why he came in contact with the Russian consul in the Persian city of Bushehr inviting him for a visit. The consul visited Kuwait in 1903 accompanied by a Russian military vessel, which caused an outcry in London.

But it wasn’t until after the Bolshevik revolution that Moscow decided to seriously focus on the Gulf. Just like the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union saw the value of diplomatic presence in the region as a way to stand up to Britain.

Apart from pursuing relations with the House of Al Saud, the Soviet Union looked at the Kingdom of Hejaz whose ruler Sharif Hussein controlled Mecca and Medina as a way to reach out to the entire Muslim world. Being at odds with London, Hussein was on the lookout for strong foreign allies, which is why his representative in Rome engaged in talks with Russia.

Extensive diplomatic communication between Georgy Chicherin, the Soviet People’s commissar for foreign affairs, and Soviet diplomats reveals just how important his vision of the Arabian Peninsula and its role in the Muslim world was. Advocating the appointment of a Soviet Muslim as envoy to Hejaz, Chicherin noted in his memo to Joseph Stalin that “Getting into Mecca is of crucial importance to us because it would increase our influence in Arabia and beyond.” He recognized that the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj, was a perfect opportunity to reach out to thousands of Muslims from the British and French colonies and flare up anti-colonial sentiment.

In August 1924, Soviet Consul General Karim Khakimov, a Soviet Muslim of Tatar descent, arrived in Jeddah. Soon after Khakimov’s arrival in Jeddah, Abdulaziz launched his campaign to take over Hejaz, which left newly arrived Soviet diplomats with a dilemma of whom to side with.

Diplomatic dispatches from the Soviet commissar for foreign affairs ordered Khakimov to position himself as an ally of all Arabs without openly showing a preference for either side. “If Ibn Saud pursues a policy of uniting the Arabs, this will be in our interests, and we will also have to try to get closer to him, as we did with respect to Hussein, who tried to unite Arabia,” Chicherin wrote to Khakimov. The Soviet Union saw the unification of Arabs as the first step towards empowering Muslims in the region and undermining British rule over them.

By December 1924, Abdelaziz took Mecca and Khakimov was convinced that the time was right for him to try to introduce himself to Ibn Saud. In April 1925, when Jeddah was under siege, he was allowed to perform Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca, where Ibn Saud was based, thus getting a chance to meet him – something that no Western non-Muslim diplomat had been allowed to do. Khakimov’s letters to Moscow reveal that his meeting with Abdulaziz went exceptionally well and that even his idea of Soviet mediation between Hejaz and Nejd was perceived positively by Ibn Saud.

By the end of 1925, Ibn Saud controlled Jeddah, and in February 1926 he declared himself King of Hejaz and Sultan of Nejd. As soon as the Soviet mission learned the news, Khakimov did what ultimately earned him the respect and friendship of Ibn Saud. On February 16, Karim Khakimov drove his personal car mounted with a Soviet flag through gunfire from Jeddah to Ibn Saud’s residence in the desert to hand over a formal note recognizing his status as the king. The Soviet Union was the first state to recognize his new title. Abdulaziz responded with a letter thanking the Soviet Union for its neutrality during the war with Hussein and expressed readiness for “relations with the government of the USSR and its citizens”.

Soviet-Saudi relations improved further when the Pan-Islamic Congress of Mecca was called in June 1926, whose objective was to resolve the dispute over Mecca and Medina. At the time, Ibn Saud’s control over these holy sites had many opponents among Islamic notables, which is why it was paramount for the king to earn recognition at the congress.

Karim Khakimov and Emir Faisal in Moscow in 1932 [Wikipedia]

Realizing this, the Soviet Union did what contradicted the fundamentals of its atheistic ideology: it sent six Soviet Islamic scholars to take part in the congress. Moscow with its 30 million Soviet Muslims threw its weight behind King Abdulaziz, providing the votes for him to be elected the president of the congress. What is more, as a result of Khakimov’s efforts, a Soviet delegate was elected the vice-president of the conference. Having established full diplomatic relations with King Abdulaziz, the Soviet Union dispatched, in 1928, a new head of mission to the kingdom, Nazir Bey Turyakulov.

London’s key concern about the Soviet influence in Jeddah was that it was spreading Communist propaganda among Muslims during the Hajj. Indeed, this was one of the ideas that Moscow had for its diplomats in Jeddah, but in reality, the Soviet mission had a hard time reaching out to both locals and pilgrims.

Faced with a lot of resistance, Soviet diplomats decided to focus on the creation of trade links between Soviet Black Sea ports and Hejaz. Khakimov managed to convince King Abdulaziz to lift restrictions against Soviet goods that existed in the kingdom due to London’s lobbying. In 1929-1930, Soviet goods poured into the kingdom from the port city of Odessa. The biggest achievement of Soviet diplomats in Jeddah was entering the kerosene and benzine market that was almost entirely dominated by the British. The Soviet Union also sent a group of medics to the kingdom to take care of pilgrims during the Hajj.

As a result of Khakimov’s efforts to further develop his ties with Ibn Saud, his son Prince Faisal (who became king in 1969) visited the Soviet Union during his extensive European trip in 1932. Moscow went out of its way to impress Faisal and his entourage by introducing them to the achievements of the Soviet industry, forgiving the Saudi debt that had accumulated by then and, most importantly, offering one million British pounds in financial aid that King Abdulaziz badly needed. While visiting Soviet Azerbaijan, what was going through an oil boom of its own, Prince Faisal was impressed with the country’s oil industry expressing a desire to employ the same technology in the kingdom.

King Faisal meets US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Riyadh on March 19, 1975 [AP]

The 1932 visit to the Soviet Union was the highlight of the Saudi-Soviet relations. King Abdulaziz used Moscow’s offer of financial aid to push London to provide aid and never accepted the USSR’s offer. From that point on, the relations between the two states stagnated. As the power of Joseph Stalin was growing stronger, the relationship between the communist regime and Islam was becoming uneasy. In 1932, the Soviet Union unofficially banned its Muslims from performing Hajj.

Soviet medics continued to work in the kingdom and the diplomatic mission continued to function spreading Soviet propaganda among Saudis. In 1937, the wife of the Soviet consul, a doctor herself, even stayed with the favorite wife of Prince Faisal for several months.

After spending a few years in Yemen and Moscow, Karim Khakimov returned to Jeddah as the Head of Mission in 1935, hoping to revitalize the relationship that during his absence gradually came to a halt. Khakimov tried negotiating new trade contracts with the king, but Moscow was no longer interested. It was the time when Hitler was growing stronger in Europe and Stalin, who was skeptical about the USSR’s presence in the Gulf from the beginning, no longer saw the partnership with King Abdulaziz as beneficial. In fact, dropping any political ambitions for the Gulf was a gesture that Moscow thought would help it partner with England, whose support the Soviet Union sought against Hitler.

The career of the Soviet Lawrence of Arabia ended abruptly when he fell victim to Stalin’s political terror in 1937. In September that year, he was recalled to Moscow for a routine visit to the foreign ministry, but upon his arrival, he was arrested on suspicion of being a spy. His colleague Turyakulov who worked with him on the Saudi file was executed in October 1937. Khakimov was executed in January 1938.

King Abdulaziz was outraged at the news that the two Soviet diplomats whom he considered his friends were killed. Two months after Khakimov was executed in Moscow, American geologists discovered the world’s largest deposits of crude oil in Dhahran. This prompted the Soviet Union to appoint a new head of mission in Jeddah in 1938. King Abdulaziz, however, turned the appointment down saying that he does not wish to see anyone other than Khakimov or Turyakulov in Jeddah. He accused Moscow of inciting a revolution in the Muslim world and broke diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union. In September 1938, all remaining Soviet diplomats left Jeddah and the mission was shut down. With the USSR eliminated as a rival, Britain and later the US took over the development and exploitation of Saudi oil.

Relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia were fully restored only in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has been 25 years since then and Russian-Saudi relations have not developed beyond symbolic visits. Karim Khakimov’s diplomatic efforts to create strong and lasting ties between Moscow and Riyadh remain unparalleled.

The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Can Russia and Saudi Arabia be allies?

INSIDE STORY

Can Russia and Saudi Arabia be allies?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Hong Kong: History Of This Cash Box To Communist China’s Military Aggression

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Hong Kong

Introduction Occupied by the UK in 1841, Hong Kong was formally ceded by China the following year; various adjacent lands were added later in the 19th century. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and the UK on 19 December 1984, Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 1 July 1997. In this agreement, China has promised that, under its “one country, two systems” formula, China’s socialist economic system will not be imposed on Hong Kong and that Hong Kong will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the next 50 years.
History Human settlement in the location now known as Hong Kong dates back to the Paleolithic era. The region was first incorporated into Imperial China in the Qin Dynasty, and served as a trading post and naval base during the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty. The area’s earliest recorded European visitor was Jorge Álvares, a Portuguese mariner who arrived in 1513.[4][5] Contact with the United Kingdom was established after the British East India Company founded a trading post in the nearby city of Guangzhou.

In 1839, the refusal by Qing Dynasty authorities to import opium resulted in the First Opium War between China and Britain.[6] Hong Kong Island was first occupied by British forces in 1841, and then formally ceded from China under the Treaty of Nanking at the end of the war. The British established a Crown Colony with the founding of Victoria City the following year. In 1860, after China’s defeat in the Second Opium War, the Kowloon Peninsula south of Boundary Street and Stone cutter’s Island were ceded to Britain under the Convention of Peking. In 1898, Britain obtained a 99-year lease of Lantau Island and the adjacent northern lands, which became known as the New Territories.

Hong Kong was declared a free port to serve as an entrepôt of the British Empire. The Kowloon-Canton Railway opened in 1910 with a southern terminus in Tsim Sha Tsui. An education system based on the British model was introduced. The local Chinese population had little contact with the European community of wealthy tai-pans settled near Victoria Peak.[6]

In conjunction with its military campaign in World War II, the Empire of Japan invaded Hong Kong on December 8, 1941. The Battle of Hong Kong ended with British and Canadian defenders surrendering control of the colony to Japan on December 25. During the Japanese occupation, civilians suffered from widespread food shortages caused by imposed rations, and hyper-inflation due to forced exchange of currency for military notes. Hong Kong lost more than half of its population in the period between the invasion and Japan’s surrender in 1945,[7] when the United Kingdom resumed control of the colony.

Hong Kong’s population recovered quickly, as a wave of mainland migrants arrived for refuge from the ongoing Chinese Civil War. With the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, more migrants fled to Hong Kong from fear of persecution by the Communist Party.[6] Many corporations in Shanghai and Guangzhou also shifted their operations to Hong Kong.[6] The colony became the sole place of contact between mainland China and the Western world, as the communist government increasingly isolated the country from outside influence. Trade with the mainland was interrupted during the Korean War, when the United Nations ordered a trade embargo against the communist government.[8]

The textile and manufacturing industries grew with the help of population growth and low-cost of labor. As Hong Kong rapidly industrialized, its economy became driven by exports to international markets. Living standards rose steadily with the industrial growth. The construction of Shek Kip Mei Estate in 1953 marked the beginning of the public housing estate program. Hong Kong was disrupted by chaos during the riots of 1967.[6] Pro-communist leftists, inspired by the Cultural Revolution in the mainland, turned a labor dispute into a violent uprising against the colonial government lasting until the end of the year.

Established in 1974, the Independent Commission Against Corruption dramatically reduced corruption in the government. When the People’s Republic of China initiated a set of economic reforms in 1978, Hong Kong became the main source of foreign investments to the mainland. A Special Economic Zone was established the following year in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, located immediately north of the mainland’s border with Hong Kong. The economy of Hong Kong gradually displaced textiles and manufacturing with services, as the financial and banking sectors became increasingly dominant. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the Hong Kong government spent 25 years dealing with the entry and repatriation of Vietnamese refugees.

With the lease of the New Territories due to expire within two decades, the governments of the United Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China discussed the issue of Hong Kong’s sovereignty in the 1980’s. In 1984, the two countries signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, agreeing to transfer the sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China in 1997.[6] The declaration stipulated that Hong Kong would be governed as a special administrative region, retaining its laws and high degree of autonomy for at least fifty years after the transfer. Lacking confidence in the arrangement, some residents chose to emigrate, particularly after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

The Basic Law of Hong Kong, which would serve as the constitutional document after the transfer, was ratified in 1990. Over strong objections from Beijing, Governor Chris Patten introduced democratic reforms to the election process for the Legislative Council. The transfer of the sovereignty occurred at midnight on July 1, 1997, marked by a handover ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.[6] Tung Chee Hwa assumed office as the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s economy was affected by the Asian financial crisis of 1997 that hit many East Asian markets. The H5N1 avian influenza also surfaced that year. Implementation of the Airport Core Program led to the opening of the new Hong Kong International Airport in 1998, after six years of construction. The project was part of the ambitious Port and Airport Development Strategy that was drafted in the early 1980’s.

The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome took hold of Hong Kong in the first half of 2003.[9] That year, half a million people participated in a march to voice disapproval of the Tung administration and the proposal to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law, which had raised concerns over infringements on civil liberties. The proposal was later abandoned by the administration. In 2005, Tung submitted his resignation as chief executive. Donald Tsang, the Chief Secretary for Administration, was selected as chief executive to complete the term.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China
Geographic coordinates: 22 15 N, 114 10 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 1,092 sq km
land: 1,042 sq km
water: 50 sq km
Area – comparative: six times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: total: 30 km
regional border: China 30 km
Coastline: 733 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
Climate: subtropical monsoon; cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy from spring through summer, warm and sunny in fall
Terrain: hilly to mountainous with steep slopes; lowlands in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Tai Mo Shan 958 m
Natural resources: outstanding deep water harbor, feldspar
Land use: arable land: 5.05%
permanent crops: 1.01%
other: 93.94% (2001)
Irrigated land: 20 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: occasional typhoons
Environment – current issues: air and water pollution from rapid urbanization
Environment – international agreements: party to: Marine Dumping (associate member), Ship Pollution (associate member)
Geography – note: more than 200 islands
People Population: 6,980,412 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13% (male 476,089/female 434,326)
15-64 years: 74% (male 2,515,518/female 2,652,660)
65 years and over: 12.9% (male 419,479/female 482,340) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 41.2 years
male: 40.9 years
female: 41.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.561% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 7.34 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 6.45 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 4.72 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.096 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.948 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 0.956 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 2.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.12 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.74 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 81.68 years
male: 78.99 years
female: 84.6 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 0.98 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 2,600 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Chinese/Hong Konger
adjective: Chinese/Hong Kong
Ethnic groups: Chinese 94.9%, Filipino 2.1%, other 3% (2001 census)
Religions: eclectic mixture of local religions 90%, Christian 10%
Languages: Chinese (Cantonese) 89.2% (official), other Chinese dialects 6.4%, English 3.2% (official), other 1.2% (2001 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 93.5%
male: 96.9%
female: 89.6%

Gandhi in books and movies: 6 references you cannot miss

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF Sohini Mitter)

 

Gandhi in books and movies: 6 references you cannot miss

Sohini Mitter     posted on 2nd October 2018

Mahatma Gandhi continues to be relevant even after 70 years of his death. Our pop culture keeps him alive and for good reason.

Mahatma Gandhi would have been 149 today.

Arguably the most influential figure of modern Indian history, Gandhi is also one of the most studied, discussed and dissected personalities of all time. And for good reason.

Dominique Atkinson and Doug Greene in their book The Men Who Changed the Course of History counted Gandhi alongside Jesus Christ, Napoleon Bonaparte, David Moses, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Prophet Muhammad.

These individuals, the book said, “would have been remarkable in any era in which they were born. But by living when they did, each defined the times in which they lived. Their actions transformed the imprint of their countries and the world.”

A still from Gandhi (1982) | Image: NFDC

Even great men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, who played critical roles in the transformation of their respective countries, were deeply influenced by Gandhi’s doctrines of truth and non-violence.

Closer home, the ‘imprint’ of the Mahatma has endured, of course.

His face has been printed across our currency notes for 22 years and counting. Gandhi portraits adorn the walls of Indian courtrooms, police stations, government offices, etc. Schoolkids dress up as Gandhiji in annual functions year after year. And, there is media and popular culture that keeps Gandhi — somewhat like Che Guevara — always topical.

YourStory lists some notable pop culture references that invoke and celebrate Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi (1982)

Ben Kingsley in and as Gandhi

Sir Richard Attenborough famously said that it took him 20 years to find a financier for his eponymous film on the Mahatma. When he pitched the life story of a non-violent freedom crusader from India to producers, they dismissed him saying, “Who the hell will be interested in a little brown man wrapped in a sheet carrying a beanpole?” Gandhi eventually released in 1982, with Ben Kingsley essaying the titular role. A year later, it won eight Oscars, including Best Film and Best Actor. The film charted Gandhi’s journey from 1893 South Africa, when he was subjected to racial discrimination, to 1948 India, when he was assassinated less than a year after Indian independence. Attenborough’s film continues to remain the most definitive work on the life and times of the Mahatma.

The Great Indian Novel  (1989)

Image: Between the Lines

Shashi Tharoor’s 1989 book, The Great Indian Novel, which drew from characters and personalities in Indian history and mythology added a touch of irreverence to Gandhi and kept readers guessing with clues and references. A character named Gangaji is shown as the leader of the Quit India movement, an advocate of celibacy, a man obsessed with ‘toilet cleaning’, and the one to go on the Great Mango March (an allusion to Gandhi’s Salt March of 1930). There is also a character wittily named Sir Richard Churchill, modelled on Sir Richard Attenborough, who is made to describe Gangaji as ‘Public Enema Number One’. By the end of the novel, Gangaji is, of course, killed as was Gandhi in real life.

Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006)

For Generations Y and Z, Raju Hirani’s 2006 Bollywood film starring Sanjay Dutt, is possibly the most prominent Gandhi reference in pop culture. The film, a part of Hirani’s Munnabhai series on the life of a Mumbai underworld don, coined a street term to describe Gandhian principles and philosophies – Gandhigiri. Munnabhai played by Dutt is possessed by the spirit of Gandhi and he goes about conducting his life truthfully and non-violently. Like Gandhi, he preaches the benefits of cleanliness and other things to people. He even urges them to co-operate and co-exist in society, all the while maintaining the street credentials of a bhai (local goon).

Gandhi, My Father (2007)

While the world celebrated the Mahatma, he led a deeply troubled personal life. Feroz Abbas Khan’s Gandhi, My Father explored his tumultuous relationship with son, Harilal. The film was adapted from the biography of Harilal Gandhi penned by Chandulal Bhagubhai Dalal, and it explored the basic conflict between father and son. While Harilal (played by Akshaye Khanna), wanted to become a foreign-educated barrister (lawyer) like this father, Gandhi hoped his son would fight for the country and take his social causes forward. Their relationship was strained beyond repair, and Harilal eventually abandoned his father and left for South Africa. This was a rare project in which Gandhi’s personal, and not socio-political, life was in focus.

Gandhi to Hitler (2011)

This multilingual film delved on the controversial exchange of letters between Gandhi and Adolf Hitler during World War 2. The film, which established the supremacy of Gandhian ideologies over Hitler’s Nazism, opened at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival. However, reviews weren’t entirely positive. Many sections of the media regarded it to be a glorification of Hitler, but the makers clarified that the film was merely an attempt to draw a contrast between Gandhi’s and Hitler’s principles. Nonetheless, Gandhi to Hitler (also known as Dear Friend, Hitler) was a different take on a lesser known chapter of Gandhi’s life.

Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914-1948 (2018)

Image: Penguin Random House

Noted historian Ramachandra Guha’s latest book on Gandhi is launching in New York today to mark the latter’s birth anniversary. In this magnum opus spanning over a 1,000 pages, Guha traces the three decades of the 20th century during which Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became the Mahatma and the Father of the Nation, and altered the fate of India irreversibly. The book opens with Gandhi’s arrival in Bombay in early 1915 and runs through his 30 years of struggle for India’s freedom, in the course of which he advocated secularism, fought against untouchability, promoted indigenous goods, and challenged the orthodox British rule with ahimsa (non-violence). Essentially, Guha explores why Gandhi remains relevant even 70 years after his death.

Ireland: Truth, Knowledge, History Of The Great Nation Of Ireland

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Ireland

Introduction Celtic tribes arrived on the island between 600-150 B.C. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian BORU defeated the Danes in 1014. English invasions began in the 12th century and set off more than seven centuries of Anglo-Irish struggle marked by fierce rebellions and harsh repressions. A failed 1916 Easter Monday Rebellion touched off several years of guerrilla warfare that in 1921 resulted in independence from the UK for 26 southern counties; six northern (Ulster) counties remained part of the UK. In 1948 Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth; it joined the European Community in 1973. Irish governments have sought the peaceful unification of Ireland and have cooperated with Britain against terrorist groups. A peace settlement for Northern Ireland is being implemented with some difficulties. In 2006, the Irish and British governments developed and began to implement the St. Andrews Agreement, building on the Good Friday Agreement approved in 1998.
History Ireland is the successor-state to the Dominion called the Irish Free State. That Dominion came into being when all of the island of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 6 December 1922. However, the following day the Parliament of Northern Ireland exercised its right under the Anglo-Irish Treaty to opt back into the United Kingdom.[5] This action, known as the Partition of Ireland, followed four attempts to introduce devolved autonomous government over the whole island of Ireland (in 1886, 1893, 1914 and 1920). The Irish Free State was abolished when Ireland was formally established on 29 December 1937, the day its constitution came into force.

Irish independence in 1922 was preceded by the Easter Rising of 1916, when Irish volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army took over sites in Dublin and Galway under terms expressed in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The seven signatories of this proclamation, Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, Thomas Clarke, Sean MacDiarmada, Joseph Plunkett, Eamonn Ceannt and James Connolly, were executed, along with nine others, and thousands were interned precipitating the Irish War of Independence.

Early background

From the Act of Union on 1 January 1801 until 6 December 1922, Ireland had been part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. During the Great Famine from 1845 to 1849 the island’s population of over 8 million fell by 30 percent. One million Irish died of starvation and another 1.5 million emigrated,[6] which set the pattern of emigration for the century to come and would result in a constant decline up to the 1960s. From 1874, but particularly from 1880 under Charles Stewart Parnell, the Irish Parliamentary Party moved to prominence through widespread agrarian agitation that won improved tenant land reforms and with its attempts to win two Home Rule Bills, which would have granted Ireland limited national autonomy within the United Kingdom. These nevertheless led to the “grass-roots” control of national affairs under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 previously in the hands of landlord dominated grand juries.

Home Rule statute

Home Rule seemed certain in 1911 when the House of Lords lost their veto, and John Redmond secured the Third Home Rule Act 1914. The Unionist movement, however, had been growing since 1886 among Irish Protestants after the introduction of the first home rule bill, fearing that they would face discrimination and lose economic and social privileges if Irish Catholics were to achieve real political power. Though Irish unionism existed throughout the whole of Ireland, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century unionism was particularly strong in parts of Ulster, where industrialization was more common in contrast to the more agrarian rest of the island. (Any tariff barriers would, it was feared, most heavily hit that region.) In addition, the Protestant population was more strongly located in Ulster, with unionist majorities existing in about four counties.

Mounting resistance

Under the leadership of the Dublin-born Sir Edward Carson of the Irish Unionist Party and the northerner Sir James Craig of the Ulster Unionist Party unionists became strongly militant in order to oppose the Coercion of Ulster. In 1914, to avoid rebellion with Ulster, the British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, with agreement of the Irish Party leadership, amended a clause into the bill providing for home rule for 26 of the 32 counties, with an as of yet undecided new set of measures to be introduced for the area to be temporarily excluded. Though it received the Royal Assent and was placed on the statute books, the Third Home Rule Act 1914’s implementation was suspended until after the Great War. (The war at that stage was expected to be ended by 1915, not the four years it did ultimately last.) For the prior reasons of ensuring the implementation of the Act at the end of the war, Redmond and his Irish National Volunteers supported the Allied cause, and 175,000 joined Irish regiments of the 10th (Irish), 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) divisions of the New British Army.

In January 1919, after the December 1918 general election, 73 of Ireland’s 106 MPs elected were Sinn Féin members who refused to take their seats in the British House of Commons. Instead, they set up an Irish parliament called Dáil Éireann. This Dáil in January 1919 issued a Declaration of Independence and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The Declaration was mainly a restatement of the 1916 Proclamation with the additional provision that Ireland was no longer a part of the United Kingdom. The new Irish Republic was recognized internationally only by the Russian Republic. The Republic’s Aireacht (ministry) sent a delegation under Ceann Comhairle Seán T. O’Kelly to the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, but it was not admitted.

After the bitterly fought War of Independence, representatives of the British government and the Irish treaty delegates, led by Arthur Griffith, Robert Barton and Michael Collins negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London from 11 October – 6 December 1921. The Irish delegates set up headquarters at Hans Place in Knightsbridge and it was here in private discussions that the decision was taken at 11.15am on 5 December to recommend the Treaty to Dáil Éireann. Under the Treaty the British agreed to the establishment of an independent Irish State whereby the Irish Free State (in the Irish language Saorstát Éireann) with dominion status was created. Dáil Éireann narrowly ratified the treaty.History of Ireland
series

The Treaty was not entirely satisfactory to either side. It gave more concessions to the Irish than the British had intended to give but did not go far enough to satisfy republican aspirations. The new Irish Free State was in theory to cover the entire island, subject to the proviso that six counties in the north-east, termed “Northern Ireland” (which had been created as one of the two separate Home Rule regions under the Government of Ireland Act 1920) could opt out and choose to remain part of the United Kingdom, which they duly did. The remaining twenty-six counties (originally “Southern Ireland” under the Act) became the Irish Free State, a constitutional monarchy over which the British monarch reigned (from 1927 with the title King of Ireland). It had a Governor-General, a bicameral parliament, a cabinet called the “Executive Council” and a prime minister called the President of the Executive Council.

Permeating partition

The Irish Civil War was the direct consequence of the creation of the Irish Free State. Anti-Treaty forces, led by Éamon de Valera, objected to the fact that acceptance of the Treaty abolished the Irish Republic of 1919 to which they had sworn loyalty, arguing in the face of public support for the settlement that the “people have no right to do wrong”. They objected most to the fact that the state would remain part of the British Commonwealth and that Teachtaí Dála would have to swear an oath of fidelity to King George V and his successors. Pro-Treaty forces, led by Michael Collins, argued that the Treaty gave “not the ultimate freedom that all nations aspire to and develop, but the freedom to achieve it”.

At the start of the war, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) split into two opposing camps: a pro-treaty IRA and an anti-treaty IRA. The pro-Treaty IRA became part of the new Irish Army. However, through the lack of an effective command structure in the anti-Treaty IRA, and their defensive tactics throughout the war, Collins and his pro-treaty forces were able to build up an army with many tens of thousands of WWI veterans from the 1922 disbanded Irish regiments of the British Army, capable of overwhelming the anti-Treatyists. British supplies of artillery, aircraft, machine-guns and ammunition boosted pro-treaty forces, and the threat of a return of Crown forces to the Free State removed any doubts about the necessity of enforcing the treaty. The lack of public support for the anti-treaty forces (often called the Irregulars) and the determination of the government to overcome the Irregulars contributed significantly to their defeat.

The Free State Army suffered 800 fatalities and perhaps as many as 4,000 people were killed altogether.[unreliable source?] The destruction caused by the war caused considerable economic damage to the Free State in the earliest days of its existence, and Northern Ireland’s Unionists became hardened in distancing themselves from the Free State

New Constitution

On 29 December 1937, a new constitution, the Constitution of Ireland, came into force. It replaced the Irish Free State by a new state called simply “Ireland”. Though this state’s constitutional structures provided for a President of Ireland instead of a king, it was not technically a republic; the principal key role possessed by a head of state, that of symbolically representing Ireland internationally remained vested, in statute law, in the King as an organ of the Irish government. The Irish government had also taken steps to formally abolish the Office of Governor-General some months before the new Constitution came into force.

Ireland remained neutral during World War II, a period it described as The Emergency.

On 18 April 1949, the Republic of Ireland Act came into force. Under that Act, Ireland declared that it was a republic and delegated the functions previously exercised by the King acting on the behalf of the Irish government to the President of Ireland instead.

The Irish state had remained a member of the then-British Commonwealth after independence until the declaration of a republic on 18 April 1949. Under the Commonwealth rules at the time, a declaration of a republic automatically terminated membership of the Commonwealth. Ireland therefore immediately ceased to be a member and did not subsequently reapply for membership when the Commonwealth later changed its rules to allow republics to join the Commonwealth.

Ireland joined the United Nations in 1955 and the European Community (now the European Union) in 1973. Irish governments have sought the peaceful reunification of Ireland and have usually cooperated with the British government in the violent conflict involving many paramilitaries and the British Army in Northern Ireland known as “The Troubles”. A peace settlement for Northern Ireland, the Belfast Agreement, was approved in 1998 in referendums north and south of the border. As part of the peace settlement, Ireland dropped its territorial claim to Northern Ireland. The peace settlement is currently being implemented.

Geography Location: Western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain
Geographic coordinates: 53 00 N, 8 00 W
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 70,280 sq km
land: 68,890 sq km
water: 1,390 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than West Virginia
Land boundaries: total: 360 km
border countries: UK 360 km
Coastline: 1,448 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: temperate maritime; modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the time
Terrain: mostly level to rolling interior plain surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains; sea cliffs on west coast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Carrauntoohil 1,041 m
Natural resources: natural gas, peat, copper, lead, zinc, silver, barite, gypsum, limestone, dolomite
Land use: arable land: 16.82%
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 83.15% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Total renewable water resources: 46.8 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 1.18 cu km/yr (23%/77%/0%)
per capita: 284 cu m/yr (1994)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: water pollution, especially of lakes, from agricultural runoff
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: strategic location on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe; over 40% of the population resides within 100 km of Dublin
People Population: 4,109,086 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.8% (male 442,664/female 413,556)
15-64 years: 67.5% (male 1,387,803/female 1,385,355)
65 years and over: 11.7% (male 212,782/female 266,926) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 34.3 years
male: 33.5 years
female: 35.1 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.143% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 14.4 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 7.79 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 4.82 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.002 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.797 male(s)/female
total population: 0.989 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.22 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.72 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.9 years
male: 75.27 years
female: 80.7 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.86 children born/woman